Since Islamic coins characteristically bear no images, they have ample room for inscriptions; a typical coin of the Classical Period bears 50 to 100 words in a total area (obverse plus reverse) of about 10 cm2. Each coin is thus a small document bearing several explicit messages which its makers intended to convey. But inscriptions, like other features of a coin, also carry implicit information unconsciously provided by the makers. Analysis of orthography, grammatical constructions, phraseology, and epigraphical style can illuminate the evolution of the Arabic language and script; the comparative study of titulature brings out changes in the self-image and philosophy of government of rulers; religious inscriptions on coins show what their issuers regarded as fundamental, as opposed to the beliefs attributed to them by hostile or later writers. Such topics must, of course, be studied in the context of the evidence from literature and monumental inscriptions. Coins have the advantage that their evidence is usually firmly dated and placed—and undoubtedly official—although one must beware of the strongly conservative tendency of coin design: inscriptions and designs may reflect traditional practice rather than current attitudes.